I thought I’d share some thoughts about the Delaware edition of the Brew Dog show because I actually thought the show was pretty cool for the most part, and well, I need content. So here we go.
I’m going to assume you know Martin and James from Brew Dog in Scotland and I’m going to assume you have seen or know enough about the TV show Brew Dogs to understand the concept of the show. If not, basically it’s two brewers from Scotland who come over here to the US and trick unsuspecting brewers into letting them do simple shit while brewing a beer, while all the time secretly going home and laughing about how they can’t believe they get people to let them do this stuff. I’m not lying (I’m lying), it’s like Jack Ass meets Beer Hunter but it has more nudity than Jack Ass, but less than Beer Hunter. So it’s right in between there somewhere. Got it? Good.
The first segment opens with the usual back and forth between James and Martin; blah blah blah, we’re in Delaware, Dogfish Head – you can probably guess. There’s a short scene with Sam as they discuss beer, brewing, and their plans for this episode with the straight forward goal of brewing the fastest beer in under 10 days.
The plan then gets all convoluted as James decides they should brew the beer while traveling fast and Martin points out that in truth their speed record is actually 72MPH while brewing on a train, because apparently we didn’t decided if “fastest” meant time or speed before the cameras started rolling. Sam points out they are just miles from Dover Speedway, which would be a perfect place to break the land-speed-brewing record. Because you know, why would Dover have a problem with two guys who normally drive on the opposite side of the car racing an over-sized truck with a bunch of brewing equipment around their track? It’s Sam after all! And besides, they couldn’t possibly do much more damage than Joey Logano already has.
For those of you unfamiliar with the track NASCAR trademarkingly refers to as “The Monster Mile (TM)“, it’s a 1 mile oval with no flat surface. The straights bank at 9o, while the two turns work their way up to 24o. So you can’t just put brewing equipment in a truck and drive it around the track because of that annoying self-leveling thing that liquids insist on doing. A fact the show’s fabricator seems somewhat perplexed on how to handle, but you know he’s already figured it out.
We then switch to The Green in Historic New Castle where the guys meet up with the 1st Regiment of Delaware, a group of colonial reenactors that are well known in the area. Seeing a bunch of people in 18th century garb and firing period rifles may be unusual in some places, but in New Castle few people even notice. Just like no one flinches in NYC when they see a guy walking a llama down the street .
James and Martin talk with several members of the Regiment while they compare aged (2008) and un-aged bottles of DFH’s Palo Santo Marron, with some preferring the aged and some preferring the fresh. After the interviews James and Martin literally get their “colonial on” as they throw on some period clothing, which apparently includes a red knitted Santa hat with the word LIBERTY stitched across it, and drill with the Regiment.
The following segment opens immediately with Brew Dogs’ list of Top Five breweries in the state of Delaware, which I’ll address later in this post. We then head to Hills Market Farms in Felton to get some honey from Ken Outten, President of the Delaware Beekeepers Association, to use in the beer. I’m sure the guys thought this idea was theirs, but it’s Sam, and unless we’re making an Ancient Ale where the recipe excludes it, you know he’s putting some honey or maple syrup in that fashizzel. After watching James freak out over bees (not horribly, only about a 3 on the scale of the way Steve on Ghost Hunters girls out over spiders) the guys collect their honey and head on.
In the next segment it’s time to pair some beers with a well known Delaware food favorite. And since thousands of beach goers and UofD students have proven for years that any beer can be quaffed with Grotto’s pizza, and the only malt Thrasher’s wants you to have with their fries is the vinegar they put on them, we find ourselves outside of Fisher’s Popcorn in Rehoboth Beach, where Martin proclaims he can pair beer with anything. Opening originally in 1937 in Ocean City, MD, Fisher’s has become an institution at the Delaware shore having opened shops in Fenwick Island, Bethany and Rehoboth. The segment starts with owner Will Hall giving them a quick lesson on how Fisher’s Popcorn is made, which leads to James looking like he’s never stirred anything with a wooden paddle before. Odd for a brewer.
Will decides to up the challenge on the beer pairing and breaks out Fisher’s new flavor, a caramel and crab spice popcorn, which since much has been made about how crabs go with beer doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch, but maybe it will throw the Highlanders off. Martin chooses Free Will’s C.O.B a coffe oatmeal brown ale, while James goes with the more local Victory Prima Pils, which wins the contest according to Will. The guys then attempt a “hop popcorn”, which apparently wasn’t bad and paired well with a DFH 120 Minute IPA.
Back at the track the brewing rig is unveiled, a long bed 350 with a brewing system mounted in the back. To compensate for the bank of the track, the system is mounted on a gimble system that allows the system to swing, thus maintaining its own level regardless of the level of the truck; think how the seat on a Ferris wheel works. The truck is adorned with the number 07, which is a number of a truck that runs in the Camping World Truck Series owned by SS Green Light Racing. Sam feels the need to add a bunch of stuff to the beer (shocking I know) and he brings things like Turnips, palo santo smoked Radishes, star Anise, Cardamom and Kala jeera. Put the capitalized letters in the ingredients together to get his thought process. Cleverness abounds.
It’s race day and time to brew this beer, but first it’s time to list the Top Five beer bars and again, I’ll comment on them later in the post. This is the segment that the race plans are detailed, and I have to admit, it’s pretty neat. While all the rests, holds, boils and such will be done as they circle the track, all the additions and transfers will be done pit crew style by pulling the truck into pit row for a stop . They even show the device they’ll use to mash in the grains, which is a converted NASCAR gas can. These guys really thought this through. Nicely done.
It’s here that we learn that Martin and James will take turns driving the truck, while Sam sits on the sidelines because apparently, “Sam’s wife wouldn’t let him anywhere near that death trap.” Sam’s wife is either a killjoy, or a very smart woman. Multiple drivers is unusual in NASCAR unless a driver gets hurt, but since NASCAR.COM lists 9 drivers having helmed the 07 this year, I guess we’re going to over look it today.
Martin takes the wheel and before you can say, “Gentleman, start your engines”, it’s “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity…Let’s go racin’!”
As the guys circle the track, the water comes up to mash temperature and Sam calls for the first pit stop.
A real NASCAR pit crew awaits as Sam calls for a mash in and driver switch.
After an hour of incident free racing (unusual for Dover), Sam calls for a second pit stop. No tires, but a sparge and a prep to transfer the wort.
Sam squanders the chance to win over some Bud drinking NASCAR fans when he refers to himself as the “coach” of the team, instead of the more appropriate “crew chief”. I’m sure his marketing department will be having a talk with him.
During the pit stop the drivers leave the car for the garage area to do some fast craft beer virgin interviews.
Martin is back in the driver seat (that man just WON’T RETIRE!) and the after a few more laps notices liquid leaking from the truck and pit to address a wort pump problem.
Due to the leakage, the wort is now too thin and Sam’s answer is to just add more honey than originally planned. Of course.
James takes over but can’t get the line he wants through the curves, so while the wort boils he’s not making nearly the speed he needs to qualify.
Sam calls for another pit where the honey and Sam’s grocery bag are added. Sam decides to turn the wheel back over to Martin, fearing that James is simply more of a road racer and can’t handle the Monster. Don’t feel bad James, neither can David Ragan.
Martin takes to the track like Kyle Busch and doesn’t take long to hit 74MPH after which it’s another pit stop to cool the wort and pitch the yeast.
The guys then shame Sam into jumping into the truck with them and head out on the track one last time to see what they can do. Martin hits it hard, and gradually works the truck up to 91MPH; to which James says their “all out” and Sam yells, “My wife’s going to kill me!” I’m not sure Sam’s wife is going to like how she is being portrayed in this show. But apparently she runs the team, like DeLana Harvick. Then sadly, with only several laps to go – they run out of gas. And the show is over. Nah, just kidding.
A Kreston’s Commercial!!!
Finally, we’re back at the brewery with the beer that Sam referred to at the start of the show as “Super Sonic Saison”, where the rest of the show is the three amigos standing in front of the crowd talking about the beer, joking around, having the crowd say whether-or-not they like the beer (they always like the beer), some what I hope was edited for fun conversations because some of them caused me to raise an eyebrow, and Star Anise somehow being morphed into Sam’s Anus. And if that isn’t a high note to leave on, I don’t know what is.
The cold out is a nice bit that really shows Sam’s geeky sense of humor as he, James and Martin are putting on their fire suits to get into the truck. Sam and James are putting on blue suits while James is putting on a red one when Sam comments, “I don’t know if you get this on Scottish TV, but on Star Trek the person that wears red always dies.” That’s right, he may have missed the chance at converting those NASCAR fans, but he wasn’t about to miss those Trekkies.
Ok, so that’s enough of a run down of the show, let’s get to the two lists!
TOP FIVE BREWERIES TOP FIVE BEER BARS
#5 3rd Wave Brewing Arena’s Deli and Bar
#4 Argilla Brewing Cantwell’s Tavern
#3 Mispillian River Two Stones Pub
#2 Fordham/Old Dominion Henlopen City Oyster House
#1 Twin Lakes Brewing Pickled Pig Pub
As far as the breweries are concerned, I’m cool with this list. I could take acceptation of the apparent need of everyone outside the DelMarVa area to treat Fordham and Old Dominion like conjoined twins because they share the same space, but in this case it allowed them to highlight six breweries instead of just five, so I won’t complain. It does leave me wondering however if Stewart’s and Iron Hill were considered. Speaking of which, I’m not sure if it’s common practice, but I love that the host brewery was not on the list. Not for any other reason than everyone knows Dogfish Head, and as I’ve told many people who live outside our state, we’re much more than just them.
As far as the order goes, I’m good with it although I have a felling that as I have more beers from Mispillian, I might be tempted to swap #2 and #3. Just my opinion. Twin Lakes at the top? Love it.
The bar list I can’t comment about too much because I haven’t been to Arena’s or the Oyster House, but from what I’ve heard, they definitely deserve to be on it. Cantwell’s is such a nice place that I’m glad to see them on the list, and since the guys that started Two Stones were originally part of the Pickled Pig Pub, it feels like a Delaware craft beer family reunion. Missing? Only because they ran out of room in my opinion, Ulysses Gastropub which has an excellent beer selection; and Jessop’s Tavern, which probably wasn’t considered because Justin’s beer focus is more slanted to Belgians.
Wow, that’s a lot of laps, I mean words. Wave the checkered flag.
[Author’s note: All images are Copywrite and Owned By Esquire TV and Brew Dogs, and are used under Fair Use]